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7 Most Important Middlegame Principles

Written by Yury Markushin

Monday, 18 May 2015 00:00

Most chess players have a general idea of how to play the opening. However they have problems understanding
the middle-game strategies because it is not very straightforward and does not have simple "opening idea" of
developing pieces, putting king to safety, etc. After reading this article you will learn seven most important principles of
the middle-game.

1. Centralize your pieces

It is a well-known fact that in the center pieces control a lot more squares than elsewhere. This is especially important
rule to remember when dealing with the knights. The knights can control as many as 8 squares when centralized, while
only 2 square if cornered.
It is true that bishops can be very effective from the flank. However, in the center they are more mobile and control both
parts of the board. The same goes for the queen. If it is safe, bishops and queen should be centralized as well as knights.
Notice how white has centralized four of his pieces.

White to move

2. Trade your flank pawns for the central pawns

Troque seus pees flanco para os pees centrais
The central pawns are generally considered to be more valuable than the flank pawns. This is because central pawns
allow controlling important central squares (d4-d5-e4-e5) which can be used to support pieces and develop a strong
attack not only in the center but also on the kings or queens side. At the same time central pawns provide space and
increase pieces mobility.
Therefore, it is recommended not to trade your central pawns for the opponents flank pawns. In fact you should do the
opposite and exchange your flank pawns for the opponents central pawns.
White should play fxe3 to create a strong pawn center with e-d-c pawns.

White to move

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3. Avoid pawn weaknesses

Evite fraquezas de peo

A pawn weakness is something that can give your opponent an instant edge and allow him an easy game by exploiting
them. That is something that can turn an otherwise equal endgame into a loss. To avoid endgame trouble you need to
take care of the pawn structure right from the opening and middle-game.
Avoid doubled, backward, and isolated pawns.
In the position below both white and black have serious pawn weaknesses. White has doubled and backward pawns,
while black have isolated pawns.

White to move

4. Avoid creating weak squares in your position

A weak square is a square that cannot be protected by a pawn. Weak squares in your position are perfect candidates for
becoming strong outposts for your opponents pieces. The closer the weak square is to your kings position or to the
center, the bigger trouble it usually creates. Always be careful with pawn advances, since that is what creates the weak
squares. Pawns cant go back.
On the diagram below white has a weak f3 square right next to his kings position. It can be soon used by the blacks

knight and queen to create mating threats.

Black to move

5. Always blockade your opponents isolated pawn with a knight

An isolated pawn is a powerful weapon and can be used by your opponent to launch a strong attack, because it supports
pieces and provides extra space. Another danger of isolated pawn is that it can be pushed forward at the right time
causing many problems. Thats why it is very important to always blockade opponents isolated pawn to avoid
complications. The best piece for this purpose is indeed the knight.

Black to move

6. Occupy open files with your rooks

It is no secret that rooks work best on open files. If there is an open file available your instinctual move should be to
occupy the file with your rook. Next step should be to double your rooks on the open file. If there are no open files
available, you can occupy a semi-open file that you can force open later.
In the position below white has serious positional advantage because he is controlling the open file - main element of the

White to move

7. Keep the bishop pair

The bishop pair is very powerful in most positions. Only if position is totally locked up the two knights may be stronger than a bishop
pair. Avoid giving up one of your bishops in the opening or early middle-game just to create doubled pawns in your opponents pawn
structure. In most cases the attacking potential of the bishop pair overweight the pawn structure defects.
In the position below white has a serious positional advantage due to the possession of the bishop pair.

White to move

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